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Lancaster set to land caretaker role
ESPNscrum Staff
November 21, 2011

The Rugby Football Union is reportedly set to appoint Stuart Lancaster as their caretaker coach for the 2012 Six Nations.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the England Saxons boss, who was linked with the now redundant performance director post earlier this year, will spearhead England's defence of the Championship after manager Martin Johnson stepped down from his post last week.

It is understood that the former Leeds boss will head up a coaching team also featuring current defence coach Mike Ford and scrum coach Graham Rowntree. But the future looks bleak for forwards coach John Wells and attack coach Brian Smith. Well will reportedly be offered a job within the academy set-up while Smith looks set to lose his job along with kicking specialist Dave Alred.

The Professional Game Board met on Thursday to discuss England's World Cup failures - with Johnson in attendance - and Smith apparently came in for heavy criticism. "Smith was butchered," one source told the newspaper. "He made a presentation with statistics to say England had the best attack in world rugby over the last 12 months but he was criticised for hardly ever visiting the clubs and for poor communication with the players."

And the decision to appoint a short-term measure - while the RFU continue their search for the man to lead England into the 2015 World Cup - has been met with widespread approval. Former England coach Dick Best agrees the caretaker option is the correct way forward but has also questioned why the RFU has not got a succession plan in place. "Stuart Lancaster is a sound pair of hands but most people won't have heard of him," Best said. "My question is where are the wave of people ready to take over? Rob Andrew certainly wasn't going to put himself forward because that would involve making a decision and putting his neck on the block."

Bath boss Sir Ian McGeechan also backed the caretaker option saying: "It's sad to see Johnno go and the best thing would have been for him to use the experience he has now and go forward with the right men around him. It seems a shame to lose that.

"If you have a caretaker set-up, then you'd be better to have a process over six months to find a new man than jumping to conclusions in three or four weeks. I've had no approach and don't anticipate one."

Should he appointment be confirmed, Lancaster's first job will be to draw up the England elite player squad for the Six Nations with the list set to be named in early January.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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